… hitting a goal I had set for myself in early November of last year to run at least 3 times a week until 1 March, followed by my first 5k on 15 March.
This has been me since the race and our subsequent wedding on 22 March…
It’s time though, friends. The Post-Wedding Binge has GOT TO STOP. The fact that I had met my running goal and that I no longer had to worry about looking thin and beautiful in photos that I’ll look at for the REST OF MY LIFE, meant that I could let go a bit. Take a break from running. Indulge. Reward myself. Unfortunately, that has gotten a bit, well, out of control. I’ve literally only run about 3 times since that 5k. However, I’ve decided that I refuse to fall into the “getting comfortable,” married slump, and it’s time to get back to the grind. Sure, I don’t want to be one of those people who gets married and then lets themselves go (especially when we haven’t even reached the two month mark!) but in addition to that, when I’m running, I feel better. It keeps me sane. It makes me happier. The days are longer in Seattle now, and there’s even a good amount of sunshine. If I ran through the winter, there’s no excuse now. Let’s do this.
P.S. There should be a post sometime soon about how I vow to give up sugar. I know it needs to happen. I’m just not ready. So there.
RM and I returned last week from a weeklong honeymoon to the most romantic city in the world—Paris. If you’re familiar with my blog, you already know that I’m obsessed with all things French, despite not actually knowing the language. If you’re not sure what I’m talking about, you can get up to speed here. I haven’t actually followed through on commitment to learn French yet. Don’t judge. RM does speak French, and his mom’s side of the family is even from France. So cool, right?
Anyway, we were looking for somewhere to honeymoon that we wouldn’t feel the pressure of sightseeing every. single. place. for the first time, and since RM and I had both been to Paris before, it seemed like the perfect choice. We had talked about seeing Paris together since we started dating. We were especially excited about seeing the city in a whole new (and relaxing) way. We envisioned ourselves eating fresh baguettes while looking up at the Eiffel Tower, taking long walks on the Seine, admiring the view of the city from the Sacre Coeur—you get the picture.
Before we knew it, there we were: stuffing our faces with an ungodly amount of pastries! (Seriously, you don’t want to know our carb intake for that week.) We rented an apartment through Paris Perfect, a company owned by an American woman and her French husband that rents out apartments all over Paris by the week. It did not disappoint! We stayed in an adorable corner unit just around the corner of the Rue Cler market in the 7th arrondissement. (If you’re a fan of Rick Steves–I’m mildly obsessed–he devotes a whole section to the Rue Cler in his Paris guidebook!) We had a view of the Eiffel Tower from the dining room and bedroom! We spent several nights in, enjoying the light show from our cozy apartment. We also learned that the light show ends at 1:00 AM. How do we know this? Well, we never actually adjusted to Paris time, which made for lots of late night jambon snacks while we admired the lights. It’s really too bad it didn’t last until 4:00 AM because we were up most nights until then!
RM and I had such an enjoyable time, and we couldn’t have done it without our family and friends who paid our way! That’s right, I said PAID our way. RM and I decided to start a Honeyfund to help us go on our dream trip together, and our family and friends really delivered! Honeyfund is a great website that makes it less tacky to ask for money for your wedding. (No, I’m not getting paid to say this, although I wish I were.) It was especially useful to us because RM and I have both been working professionals for several years, so if anything, we’ll need to get RID of things when we combine households. We registered for a few kitchen items at my shower that we knew we needed, but more or less, we knew that what we could really use was help getting to Paris. Honeyfund makes it so easy by connecting to your Paypal, where you can then transfer the money right into your checking account. It also keeps track of your gifts when it comes time for thank you cards!
Okay, I’m done with my free advertising for Honeyfund.
I’m back! My apologies for the radio silence over the last several weeks, but I was busy doing a little something called planning a wedding! That’s right–RM and I got hitched! I’m officially an old married lady. You heard it here first… or you’ve already seen it on Facebook because I’ve obnoxiously shared several photos of the big day.
We were blessed with an amazing 70 degree day full of sunshine with a view of the Olympics Mountains as we said “I do” on the Puget Sound in Steilacoom, Washington. I decided early on in the planning process that I would be the kind of bride who delegated as much as possible, and thankfully, we had so many family and friends who were willing to help out that this method worked wonderfully.
We were also striving to keep our big day under $5,000, which in this day and age is pretty much unheard of. The average cost of a wedding in the U.S. is in the neighborhood of $25,000. WHAT?! We had no interest in spending that kind of money and starting our marriage out in debt! We could think of several other things to spend that kind of money on… a down payment on a house, a honeymoon, kids’ college, etc. When we first began the planning process, I was so discouraged when I found that most of the venues we were looking at started at $3-4k. –And we would still have the expenses of food, decorations, photographer, dress, etc! How were we going to do this?
We knew about Steilacoom Townhall because RM is originally from the area, and while we thought it was the perfect venue at the perfect price (only $100/hour, what?!), the Townhall isn’t big enough to set up for a ceremony AND a reception, and we couldn’t be sure that the weather would hold up for conducting the ceremony outside. This is Seattle, after all. The thought of cramming in folks in the Townhall for the ceremony then asking them to stand in the rain while we set up for the reception just didn’t make sense to us.
As a result, we decided to do an intimate ceremony with just family, and if it rained, it would be easy to have the ceremony inside with most of the reception tables set up since it was such a small group. Problem solved. We lucked out and had the most beautiful day, so we had our small ceremony outside on the water. We were happy that we chose to have a smaller ceremony though because we preferred the intimate feel of having our family stand around us.
My mom made lavender sachets for the favors, and in keeping with the French theme, they were all stamped with “Merci.” She also made the ring pillow out of an old handkerchief from the early 1900s. My sister, also my matron of honor, made my garter. She and my bridesmaid, M, were there to get me into my dress and do things that only sisters and besties do, like adjust things that you can’t get to yourself because there are just too.many.layers.
I didn’t see the decorated venue until RM and I were announced at the reception, and it was so exciting to see how everything came together exactly how I had pictured it. RM’s mom did a fabulous job decorating with several family members and friends assisting, and my friend A who flew in carried much of the water making sure everything on my checklist was just how I wanted it. She even darted out and bought us beautiful champagne flutes for the toast at the last minute when I realized we had forgotten to get them! RM’s aunt made our cake and cupcakes, and they were gorgeous! I was seriously blown away. We gave her a picture of what we wanted and tah-dah–exactly like it! RM’s cousin put together a string quartet for us, and they played beautifully. We bought the flowers from Costco, and a family friend arranged them for us. Talk about DIY, right?
All in all, we had an amazing day! We’re so grateful to all of the helping hands we had to make our day so special. We are very lucky to have so much love and support in our lives. I wish I could bottle up the feeling that I had as I started to walk down the aisle and found RM’s eyes. The sun was shining. The water and the mountains were just gorgeous. It was exactly how I had pictured that moment to be. I thought to myself, This is it. The moment you’ve been waiting for your whole life. Soak it in. I wanted to remember it forever. It was the happiest moment of my life thus far, and I can only imagine that there will be even happier ones in our life moving forward.
Here’s a rundown of the deets for brides who are also on a budget (if you see something I didn’t mention, feel free to drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org):
Wedding dress: David’s Bridal, found here. It was the only dress I had bookmarked on my computer for about a year before we were engaged. I went in and found it on the “slightly defected” rack, which basically means the sizing or some tiny bead was off, so they aren’t allowed to sell it at full price. I’m not superstitious, and I know a good bargain when I see one. It just so happened to be in my size, and only $300 instead of $799. Sold. The only dress I tried on. When you know, you know 🙂
Ring pillow: Hand-sewn by mother of the bride out of an antique handkerchief
Wedding favors: lavender sachet bags made by the mother of the bride. Bags purchased from Etsy, similar bags from same seller found here.
Wedding signs/decor: JoAnn Fabrics (tip: google JoAnn coupon on your smart phone to get 20% off!), TJ Maxx, Pier One
Wedding cake and cupcakes: RM’s aunt JoLee. You can see more of her work on her Facebook page here.
French macarons: Belle Pastry in Bellevue, WA. Website: here. This was an added cost that wasn’t
necessary, but it was one of those things that I just had.to.have. It was a French theme!
Photographer: Finding a photographer was one of the most frustrating parts, as most range from $2-4k. WHAT?! We lucked out with a crazy talented photographer who we found through the google, called Phreckle Face Photography, who has much more reasonable prices. You can see some of the photos on her blog here.
Food: We decided to go with hors d’oeuvres since we were having an afternoon reception from 2:00-5:00. We wanted a more relaxed vibe that encouraged mingling, vice a more formal plated dinner feel. Sometimes hors d’oeuvres can be more expensive, but a friend of RM’s sister just started a catering business with her mother and has very reasonable prices. The food was so tasty, and everyone raved about it! Highly recommend her. Info: Hearthstone Culinary Traditions, Gini Wicklund Chef/Owner, email: email@example.com.
Ceremony Venue:Pioneer Park Bandstand (just down the hill behind Steilacoom Townhall). $350 for 3 hours. $250 separate refundable deposit.
Flowers: Costco–can you believe it? We planned on hitting up Pike’s Place the day before the wedding, but when RM and I went to scout it out the week before, they didn’t have ANY of the flowers/colors that I had in mind. Surprisingly enough, Costco had exactly what I wanted. We didn’t order them in bulk beforehand because I didn’t realize you could do that until two days before, and you need nine days notice. However, we didn’t need quite that many flowers, and I think it would have been more expensive that route. We handpicked the ones we wanted and went to two Costcos to get enough of them. RM’s mom’s friend, who works part time at a florist shop, arranged the bouquets for us.
Honeymoon to Paris: http://www.honeyfund.com. We printed out business cards with the website address on it and hand stamped them with the Eiffel Tower and included it with the invitation. We would highly recommend this! Since RM and I are more established than some folks getting married, we really didn’t need a lot of stuff as wedding presents. We were just happy for folks to come to the wedding (especially those who had to travel far!), but if they felt inclined to give something, we asked that they consider helping us go on our dream honeymoon to Paris. People were incredibly generous, and we just returned from a wonderful week in Paris following the wedding. That will be the next blog post 🙂
Here are some more of my favorite pics from the day courtesy of Phreckle Face Photography:
Yesterday I was chatting with a friend of ours who is currently living overseas and therefore won’t be able to make it to our wedding.
“Post some pictures! My girls are so excited and can’t wait to see!” he said of his twin 15-year-old daughters.
“I think they’re excited to know that a guy like RM exists,” he told me.
Our friend L lived in Seattle until last summer and witnessed the evolution of my relationship with RM and shared our dating story with his daughters. RM quickly became known as Peeta—due to his stellar bread making and archery skills, not that Peeta had archery skills, but you get the picture—and we have become somewhat of a “famous” couple to them akin to Peeta and Katniss. (We’re flattered, of course.)
His comment struck a chord with me—not just because I think it is sweet that his daughters look up to our relationship, but because I realize that I am lucky to have found a man like RM. For a long time, I also thought men like him didn’t exist.
As my close friends can attest, to say that I had to date a few frogs until I found my prince would be the understatement of the year. For that reason, I feel like I have suffered sufficient heartbreaks and douchebaggery to warrant an appropriate amount of gushing over finding the perfect man for me on a semi-regular basis on my blog. That’s right, I said the perfect man for me.
I recognize that I am lucky to have found someone with whom I connect on several levels—intellectually, spiritually, emotionally, and physically. He’s already my best friend, and soon he’ll be my husband. Getting to spend the rest of my life with my best friend to whom I’m also wildly attracted? Not a bad deal. While RM is not a perfect person (who is?), and we might not always agree or see eye to eye on things, I know he is the perfect fit for me.
Why am I emphasizing “for me?” Well, no one is perfect, and when we set out on a journey to find The One and expect him to be Mr. Perfect, we’re holding him to standards that are impossible to keep. We’re setting him up for failure. We’re all human, and surprise—men are too. They make mistakes. They’re not going to read your mind all of the time, and that’s okay. He’s probably not going to hold a radio over his head outside your window. He’s also probably not going to chase you down on a motorcycle with your Love Fern attached to the back. This is not a Rom Com. This is real life.
In the process of searching for—and failing to find—the elusive perfect man, I feel like we [women] have swung to the opposite end of the pendulum. We haven’t been able to find a perfect man who checks every. single. box. and never makes a mistake, so we’ve started settling for Mr. Far From Perfect. This guy appears in two different forms. The first, I like to call Mr. Safe Guy. In this scenario, we’ve come to believe that you just can’t have it all. A man who can be your best friend AND your romantic partner? A man with whom you can have serious discussions AND laugh until you cry? Well, that’s just too much to ask. Just settle for the man who can be your best friend—who cares if there is passion? If he looks good on paper, then he must be the perfect choice, right? Wrong.
Or, alternatively, we’ve settled on dating Mr. Douchebag, to whom we might be insanely attracted, but we recognize there is no future. Then when the relationship inevitably fails, we feel vindicated because we didn’t expect it to work out anyway. Yet we still find ourselves asking, “why can’t I find The One?” This is called Self-Sabotage, my friend.
The bottom line? We’ve become disenchanted and burnt out.
This was me before moving to Seattle. I had been on the hunt for a husband for several years. As soon as I graduated college and started my career, I was ready to find The One. I soon found myself with Mr. Safe Guy. He was a great guy, and he also looked good on paper. The problem? We didn’t have anything in common—no shared interests, no spiritual connection, no emotional connection, nothing. There also wasn’t any passion. It was like a platonic friendship that we called a romantic relationship—hold the romance. He checked all of my boxes though, or at least the boxes I thought were important at the time. Through lots of heartbreak (on both sides), I learned that just because someone is a nice guy and looks perfect on paper, doesn’t mean he’s perfect for me. That guy has since found someone who is a perfect fit for him, and they are currently on the road to their happily ever after, and I couldn’t be happier for the two of them.
For the next several years, I bounced back and forth between Mr. Safe Guys and Mr. Douchebags. The more disenchanted I became, the more Mr. Douchebags I seemed to be gravitating toward. I finally decided that I needed to “regroup” and spend time focused on myself, making sure that I was emotionally healthy so that when I did meet someone worth dating, I would be ready to have a healthy, positive relationship. No more settling or self-sabotaging.
I came to Seattle with that frame of mind, and I tossed out the Mr. Perfect checklist on which I had been unsuccessfully operating for years. I wasn’t sure what I was looking for anymore, and maybe the truth is, I stopped looking. I was content with my life, and I let go of the urgency of finding The One.
Conveniently, that’s when I met RM. I was immediately attracted to him—and not just physically. He exuded such positivity and love for life that I was excited to be around him and wanted to know him more. I knew it was a positive sign that when I spent time with him I felt like I could be myself. I was relaxed. We genuinely enjoyed each other’s company and conversation. We laughed so hard that we cried. We also enjoyed steamy makeout sessions, so that didn’t hurt either 😉 I was beginning to realize that maybe, just maybe, I could have it all.
Above all else, RM had qualities that embarrassingly enough, I hadn’t even thought to include on my previous checklist. He had integrity, honor, loyalty, and kindness. He respected me from the very beginning, and not a day has gone by where he hasn’t cherished me. I was so unaccustomed to being honored by a man, that I didn’t even realize that not only was it something that I wanted but it was something that I absolutely needed. If it weren’t for the introspective time I had spent taking off the “checklist blinders,” prior to my move to Seattle, I’m not sure that I would have recognized a wonderful man like RM if he was staring me in the face.
So while I think L’s daughters were probably referring to the fact that RM bakes bread, plays several instruments, shoots bow and arrows, speaks multiple languages, etc. as the impressive qualities that they didn’t think “existed,” in men—I suppose there aren’t many 15 year old boys like that—it’s those extra qualities that you can’t measure in a silly checklist that make RM so special and me so grateful for him.
Let me just close this gushy post by saying: the honorable men you’re looking for do exist. You deserve to be honored and treasured. You don’t need to settle for someone who doesn’t excite you or someone who doesn’t treat you well. Life might not be a chick flick, but thank God for that! It’s much more complex and fulfilling. Men aren’t perfect, but neither are we—that’s what forgiveness and understanding are for. Life can be sweet and wonderful if we let go of our checklists and open ourselves up to new possibilities. –And who knows? You might just surprise yourself and find someone who is perfect for you.
… how to relate to the opposite sex, that is. Get your minds out of the gutter! 😉 Last month, a friend of mine recommended that RM and I listen to a relationship workshop she had on CDs called, “In Sync With the Opposite Sex,” by a woman named Allison Armstrong. This friend insisted that Armstrong’s workshops had changed her life and promised that it would be worth it and would only improve and strengthen our relationship as we moved toward marriage.
The day after receiving the CDs, RM and I gave them a try. We were both skeptical at first, but within 40 minutes, we were in it to win it. You’re probably wondering—what is this workshop about, Christina? I’m on the edge my seat. Well, dear readers, let me break it down for you…
The gist of the workshop is learning about men and women and how our differences affect the way we relate to each other. Armstrong breaks it down into a very simple-to-understand “human animal” versus “human spirit” explanation. (RM and I refer to “human animal” as the “natural man.”) She explains that a lot of the ways we act when dating and relating to the opposite sex these days stems from characteristics imprinted in our DNA from billions of years ago.
For example, men were the hunters and women were the gatherers. Men were primary focused because they needed to hunt the deer to provide for their family. Women were gathering information to keep the family safe, such as knowing tiny details about berry bushes to know which were poisonous. Now, I realize that these ideas don’t necessarily sound earth shattering, but that’s not what makes this workshop so fantastic. Armstrong’s real talent lies in the way she takes the age-old descriptions of the hunter/gatherer and brings them to life in vivid illustrations of how these traits show up in our relationships in today’s society. (I should note that Armstrong also says that some women who are ambitious and career-oriented may find that they relate more to the hunter. I know that was the case for me in several examples.)
There were several issues that hit home for RM and me, but because I could go on forever, I’ll only share a few of the best ones here and minor adjustments we’re already making to improve the way in which we relate to each other.
1. Producing a result. Armstrong talks about a man’s primary focus and how that looks when he picks a woman up for a date. The man is focused on producing results. He wants to “get to the restaurant” as Armstrong says. Meanwhile, the woman/gatherer is interested in gathering information, i.e. making a connection. She immediately starts talking and asking questions, only to feel like the man isn’t interested. He is interested, but he is focused on getting you to the restaurant so that you’ll have a good time.
I’ve noticed that I have a tendency to do this with RM. In fact, sometimes I launch into full-blown serious discussions as soon as we get in the car. I’m now making a conscious effort to respect his “transition time,” as Armstrong calls it and to wait a few minutes when we get in the car to give RM some time to get his bearings, and once he has gotten situated, then I talk. I’m not always successful at this, and sometimes I only recognize it after I’ve blabbered on, and he seems to be in a different world. It’s comforting now though to understand what’s going on and makes it easier not to take it personally if RM seems to be focused elsewhere.
2. Solving the problem. The next big point that hit home for us was Armstrong’s argument that a man has a strong desire to solve problems whereas sometimes a woman just needs to vent. Again, this isn’t new or earth shattering, as a humorous depiction of this went viral on Youtube called “It’s not about the nail.” You can find it here. Armstrong has a great way of painting this picture and explains that a woman’s experience is that she feels “full,” and that she has to “get it out.” She recommends that the man fight against the strong urge to solve the problem and picture himself holding out a trash can. She suggested using phrases such as, “That’s just terrible… anything else? Anything else?” RM has already tried this a few times with some success, and we’ve also recognized several times when he has attempted to solve the problem, and I’ve said, “listen, I just need the trash can right now.”
3. Deal breakers. This is one that is less relevant to us now that we’re engaged and clearly in it for the long haul; however, we found this one really interesting and therefore, I’ve deemed it worth sharing. Armstrong explains that deal breakers for men in relationships are both real and firm, whereas for women, deal breakers can be flexible. Armstrong explains that women view deal breakers as flexible because women are in many ways still driven by a biological need to find a provider to survive. While women have the ability to be financially independent and have fulfilling, successful careers nowadays, women are still tied to the very realness of the fertility timeline. For this reason, a woman is more likely to adjust her deal breakers in pursuit of a husband. Like maybe perhaps date someone who is a member of a religion of which you previously were not the biggest fan? Just an example, of course 😉
Women then make an assumption that since their deal breakers are flexible, then men’s deal breakers must be flexible as well. Armstrong, however, debunks this assumption and explains that men do not have that same drive to marry as women do. Men can reproduce their whole lives, and they’re looking for marriage to enhance their lives. If a man has a deal breaker, he’s not going to change his mind about it—no matter how much he might like the woman. I think back to the times when I’ve dated men who told me that they weren’t interested in a relationship at that point in time, and yet I continued to date them. I distinctly remember telling myself, “We have such a great connection and chemistry. It’s only a matter of time before he changes his mind.” Wrong. Knowing Armstrong’s explanation of deal breakers certainly would have saved me some heartbreak and more importantly, TIME.
4. If you’re off the charts sexually attracted to someone—RUN. Armstrong makes the argument that if you are SO incredibly and intensely physically attracted to someone that all you can think about is, “I have to have him,” or “I have to have her,” that is not a good sign. In these situations, men are distracted because their primary needs are sex and attention, so they will be consumed with doing whatever they can to get that from the women. Women, who Armstrong describes as people-pleasers, will twist themselves into pretzels trying to please the men. The problem with this, you ask? Men and women will be so clouded with the intense sexual attraction that they won’t be their genuine selves. If you can’t be yourself around someone, you are setting yourself up for a difficult relationship that is most likely doomed to failure at some point. Armstrong makes the point that we are the LEAST ourselves around people to whom we are insanely attracted. We’re afraid to be ourselves and be upfront about what it is we’re looking for because we think it will scare them away—and they might be The One. But if they were the one, why would being honest about who we are and what we truly want scare them away? If it does, then they weren’t the one in the first place.
Armstrong instead suggests looking for someone for whom you not only feel a sexual attraction, but also a desire to get to know him/her. That feeling that there’s something special about that person. I like to think of that as his/her spirit. When RM and I met, I was of course attracted to him, but I also had a strong pull toward wanting to know who he was. I could sense his sweet, adventurous, and tough spirit, and I knew I had to know him.
While this workshop was catered toward people who are in the dating scene, RM and I found several nuggets that applied to our relationship in different ways. We enjoyed listening to it together and had many “a-ha moments” where we had to pause it and say, “so THAT’s why you said this when I did that?” We would recommend it to anyone who is starting to date, in a relationship, or even married. I’m so grateful to have someone who is committed to making our relationship (and soon marriage—whoop whoop!) a healthy, enriched, and rewarding one, always looking for ways to improve and strengthen it. I’d say I lucked out as far as future husbands go 😉